Plasma Canon core mechanics:
A plasma canon is almost always smooth bore. Canon cartridges are two layers of cylindrical crystal formed from a mix of readily available quartz and biomass, surrounding a gaseous chemical compound with a base of Xenon or a similar heavy gas. The rear of a cartridge contains a segment of explosive solids used as a propellant.
When a cartridge is loaded it is immediately given a short electrical charge which the crystal naturally maintains and prolongs. As the charge travels through the gases, they are converted to plasma at a rate relative to the amount of charge applied. This reaction causes extreme amounts of heat which the crystal conducts across several layers of varying resistances and surface area, insulating the worst of the reaction from the barrel of the cannon.
The charged cartridge is then fired by the application of a second electrical charge to the propellant. By maintaining the cartridge in the barrel, the user can allow the crystal’s inner surface to disintegrate while the reaction builds more heat. This allows for a hotter cartridge that loses less energy in the destruction of the crystal on impact. However, as the crystal breaks down so does the built in heat sink, prolonging it too far too often may result in permanent barrel damage. If the crystal is completely destroyed prior to firing, the plasma is likely to destroy the entire structure of the gun when the propellant inevitably goes off.
Plasma Rifle core mechanics:
A plasma rifle is generally long and thing, with a rifled barrel. The cartridge is usually smaller than cannon cartridges, and uses only a single layer of crystal. Rifle cartridges do not have a propellant component on the back, and also have rounded or sharpened tips.
Rifles do not apply an electrical charge to the plasma cartridge when loaded. Primarily, this means that a rifle cartridge cannot be “overloaded”, however it allows for a variety of accuracy enhancing attributes. In order to fire, a brief electrical charge runs down the length of the barrel, charging the cartridge and powering an electromagnet which slings the shot out of the barrel at very high speeds.
Most rounds have an ideal range of roughly two hundred meters, where their chemical reaction is at it’s hottest. Beyond that range the chemical reaction is usually in decline and the crystal sheath is beginning to degrade and loose it’s aerodynamic qualities.
I love it when setting and game play come together in a happy medium. This provides a good solid explanation for some game play mechanics, and works well with the proposed resource model.